When Clare Shannon (Joey King) places her palms on a cursed magic object and desires that her class crush would fall head over heels in love together with her, she doesn’t depend on being held to the madly half. However that’s the factor with cursed magic objects: They’ll get you on the semantics. In Want Upon, an virtually endearingly dreadful new supernatural fright flick, the desires—seven of them whole, two greater than your typical monkey’s paw—come courtesy of an ornate, octagonal music field, like one thing out of a curiosities store run by Guillermo Del Toro. Having the ability to learn the traditional Chinese language writing scribbled across the edges wouldn’t spare Clare of cruelly ironic comeuppance; that her needs may be misinterpreted by the literal-minded forces granting them is customary want protocol, too apparent to even stick within the superb print. However a minimum of she’d know that each request fulfilled prices one life. “When the music ends… one thing occurs,” her translator unhelpfully interprets, unable to make out the one thing half. Clare compensates her with wontons, so perhaps you get what you pay for.
As a younger lady, Clare witnessed her mom commit suicide; her bike lays within the precise spot the place she left it that day, symbolically unmoved for years, apparently even within the winter or to mow the garden. Her father (Ryan Phillippe) was a musician, however now spends his days digging via dumpsters, although it’s unclear from the unusual junk he recovers whether or not that’s out of bone-broke necessity or to feed a hoarding behavior. (Don’t search for solutions from Phillippe, who simply appears vaguely depressed that he’s now sufficiently old to play the mum or dad as an alternative of the hothead hunk in dangerous horror films.) We get it when Clare begins utilizing the want field, pulled from the trash exterior an deserted manor, to tweak her imperfect life—punishing the imply lady who torments her, rocketing herself to the highest of the highschool pecking order, and remodeling her embarrassing sax-playing dad into a extremely suave sax-playing dad. It’s much less comprehensible, after all, when she belatedly figures out that each request drops a physique, however retains going again to the veritable wishing effectively anyway.
The deaths all appear to be freak accidents, folks Clare is aware of slipping and cracking their cranium or impaling themselves. If you happen to’ve ever puzzled how a Remaining Vacation spot film would play if its mousetrap kill scenes needed to adhere to a PG-13 ranking, marvel not. Director John R. Leonetti has an inconsistent expertise for working a rake over the viewers’s nerves. Topping the stitching machine scene from his cheaply efficient evil-doll potboiler Annabelle, one of the best second right here wrings cruelly extended suspense from the digit-mangling potential of a rubbish disposal. However most of Want Upon is simply too terminally foolish (and predictable) to elicit greater than derisive chuckles. Additionally, how is it that Leonetti, who shot the genuinely beautiful The Conjuring, solely appears to take a seat on the helm of flicks that look flatly hideous of their lighting? Did a genie notice his dream to direct, however take his eyesight as penance?
The true disgrace is that Joey King acquired yanked into this cut-rate crap. For years, the adolescent starlet has introduced an enthusiastic charisma to each position: touchdown the kid-sidekick shtick of White Home Down, shrinking with credible terror in The Conjuring, injecting actual pathos right into a a lot sappier film with “want” within the title. King throws herself into the highschool melodrama of Want Upon, however the film buries her vary—from flustered infatuation to horror-flick panic—beneath a mountain of unbelievable habits and tin-eared dialogue. (That is a type of teen films the place the kids speak and behave like some advertising and marketing exec’s conception of hip youth, calling folks “hotsauce” and “bitchsauce,” and taking part in a chintzy Pokémon Go knockoff that tells you precisely when the challenge was conceived.) Want Upon piles so many poor selections on poor Clare, proper as much as a dunderheaded ultimate want, that it finally ends up taking part in like a cautionary story about not trusting youngsters with something: not the automotive, not the bank card, and positively not some unholy historic machine designed to make a mockery of our deepest human needs. That’s condescending, however is it scary? They need.